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Finding a Balance: The Importance of a Routine

I realise I have been a little quiet recently. These last few weeks been tough - I've felt really tired and haven't had much motivation to do anything at all. But last night I figured out why. It could have been my niggling knee and aching back, maybe the booze-blues after a monster hangover last weekend, not eating proper meals, not making it to a Pilates class in god knows how long, having to deal with builders at our new house... the list goes on. But I realise that all of these stem from one thing: a lack of routine. Leaving teaching was the best decision I ever made, but one positive thing that working in a school provided was routine. You had to be in a certain place at a certain time, and it was clear when you were 'on', and when you were 'off' (seemingly never, lolz). I realise I have been in a bad way these last few weeks because I haven't had this routine. I've been seeing private clients at random times, covering classes and dashing from one thing to the next, failing to take proper breaks, and not preserving decent chunks of time to recharge. From the outside, it may appear that the life of a fitness instructor is quite amiable. But one does find oneself working at times that other people are having fun - I've worked every evening except Friday this week, as well as Saturday and Sunday. Mornings are also generally teaching times, leaving afternoons 'off' for planning sessions, admin, choreography revision and endless appointments. Suddenly, the week has flown by and you realise you haven't stopped once (although at least you've done all of this wearing an elasticated waistband, which still remains one of my favourite things about my career change). Thus, all of the things I initially identified as causes of my problems are merely symptoms of a lack of routine: - I hurt my knee after teaching 3 BodyPump classes in 36 hours and then attempting to participate in BodyAttack (that might be a walk in the park for some, but my body just isn't used to it). - My back hurts because I've lost a lot of my deep core strength, since I haven't been attending or practising enough Pilates. - I gave myself a hangover because it was the only social event I have been able to attend in 2018. - I've not been eating proper meals because I've been dashing from one thing to the next. Accepting covers being the main culprit, but also scheduling appointments at times that mean I need to rush. - I haven't made it to the one Pilates class a week I can stand at my gym because the aforementioned dashing meant I forgot to book a place. And I've not practised it myself because I haven't set aside time when I actually have the mental and physical capacity to do it. - Dealing with builders is inherently routine-resistant. Who can control exactly when you're going to be called upon to choose a new sink? So what now? Well last night, I drew myself a timetable. It has my classes and clients firmly set in, and I have set myself some weekly targets for both my mental and physical wellbeing. To ensure I meet these physical targets, I have joined Les Mills On Demand, meaning I can do cardio and core workouts from home or whatever gym I find myself in, at times that suit me (i.e. not immediately after three BodyPumps). I am also going to join a new gym that runs a gazillion Pilates classes, meaning I have more flexibility (pun intended) to attend at times I'm free. I'm going to attempt to strike the fine balance between having slots set aside for workouts / conditioning / stretching, but also the flexibility to move things around should a social event or other commitment get in the way. I'm also going to stop saying yes to covering classes that aren't going to physically and mentally benefit me. Sod the financial benefits. To be honest, I think if I can get that right, the mental stuff will slip into place, leaving me feeling strong enough to deal with the unpredictability of a building project. I already feel better for having drawn a timetable. I was a kid who made colour-coded revision timetables at school, after all. So what am I saying? Well, I guess I'm saying you can't underestimate the benefits of a routine. If you're someone like me, who needs structure in their life, spend some time drawing up your own timetable, with firm commitments and 'you time' set in place.

Not only this, but for any of you New Years Resolutioners out there, the end of January is notoriously a time when good intentions start to slip. Now, more than ever, you need to commit to specific times to exercise (or whatever your resolution is), but also to creating time for you. If we can make the routine a habit now, we're more likely to continue as the year progresses.

But my best advice? Don't worry if that routine slips. If you miss a training session or a class. Rather than declaring it the end of the world, continue where you left off. We might lose our balance and fall off the proverbial horse, but it's better to to get back on and ride into the sunset than stay lying in a heap on the floor.

Physically, balance is something that gets better with practice. It's the same with balance in our lives. You will probably fall off your routine-pony again and again. But it's only by continuing to dust oneself off and remount that we will ever make lasting change, and, ultimately, reach our destination.

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